West Virginia is composed of wooded mountains and valleys, dotted with tiny towns and cities. During the holidays, this rustic state becomes a Christmas paradise, filled with towering snow-dusted trees and quaint villages. It’s the perfect place to settle down for a long winter’s rest, or a Christmas vacation where you can embrace the holiday season, reconnect with the family, and enjoy the small-town vibe — even in the cities. Christmas in West Virginia is filled with old-fashioned tree-lighting celebrations, light displays and parades, and plenty of holiday entertainment. Opt for a West Virginia vacation rental in one of these top Christmas getaway destinations, and make your holidays merry and bright.
Hurricane, a little mountain town in West Virginia, offers a Christmasy experience with its Yuletide in the Park. This event includes animated light displays that you can drive through, such as the 12 Days of Christmas, a parade, and a tree-lighting ceremony. If that’s not enough, take a wreath-making class, go on a horse-drawn wagon ride with the kids, and cut loose at the Rock Around the Christmas Tree dance. Take a walk back in time at the yearly Victorian Christmas celebration, complete with carriage rides and refreshments. If you want to add a little levity to your trip, check out the hilarious Reindog Parade, with prizes for the best-dressed pooch. Finish strong with a Walk Thru Bethlehem, which doubles as a food drive and features a live nativity.
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2. Harpers Ferry
Harpers Ferry combines its history with Christmas to create Olde Tyme Christmas, one of the most unique Christmas celebrations in the state; picture an Uncle Sam Santa Claus and you start to get the idea. This Christmas-past celebration is inspired by the town’s 19th-century history, commemorated with period costumes, a Victorian-era village decked up in fresh greenery and bows, luminaries, and folk music. The festivities include a visit from Santa, puppet shows, a live nativity, and horse-drawn carriage and wagon rides. While enjoying the fun, shop at some of the local stores, which are also decked out like the rest of the town.
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Huntington is home to Heritage Farm, which transforms during the holidays into a Christmas village. Heritage Farm is a 19th-century Appalachian Village that dresses up in its holiday best for the Way Back Weekend Festival. Enjoy the lights, old-time Christmas decor, and wagon rides. Watch artisans spin, make soap, and work the blacksmith bellows for authentic crafts (and great Christmas finds). Huntington itself hosts a Christmas Parade of Light, the perfect activity to get you into the holiday spirit. Enjoy the fun, meet Santa, and get a hot cup of chocolate to warm your belly and heart.
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If Christmas lights are your thing, look no further than Oglebay Resort in Wheeling, one of the most popular vacation destinations in the state. It also has one of the biggest holiday light exhibitions in the country, with 300 acres of brightly colored displays, including the 300-foot rainbow tunnel, the Christmas Tree Garden, and the Gardens of Light Tour at the Mansion Museum. If this isn’t enough, Oglebay’s neighbor, the Good Zoo, is also in on the action with light shows choreographed to Christmas music.
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Parkersburg is one of the bigger cities of the bunch and boasts an equally big Holiday in the Park—or rather parks, because this extravaganza links and covers two parks. First, drive through the light displays that link the two parks, then hop on board a carriage ride for an old-fashioned experience. Next, stop at Henderson Hall, a historic building decked out in boughs of holly and other Christmas decor. While in the historical holiday spirit, go on the Victorian Christmas Homes Tour and Tea. Finally, get into the spirit with live holiday music with Hometown Christmas at the Smoot.
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Fairmont is all about the unusual, specializing in Italian-style holiday celebrations. This means Feast of the Seven Fishes, an idea that goes back to Catholicism and eating a Christmas Eve meal that’s free of red meat. If you’re unsure how to get into it, take a class on how to prepare the traditional Italian meal. The festival also includes other Italian Christmas traditions and plenty of authentic Italian food and drink, culminating in a Catholic Mass. For a more modern celebration, drive through the town’s Celebration of Lights for 1.3 miles of bright Christmas displays.
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Charleston, the capital of West Virginia, offers a variety of Christmas opportunities as plentiful as its population. The Joyful Night Celebration includes live music and a tree-lighting ceremony. The Charleston Civics Center always offers holiday performances. Past performances include the Trans Siberian Orchestra, the Nutcracker Ballet, and the Rockettes. Head down to South Charleston for a small-town Christmas parade. Santa doesn’t just visit; he does so in style aboard a helicopter. Afterward, view a nondenominational display of nativities from all around the world at the local LDS Church.
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